| America First|
|by Lawton B. Evans|
|Collection of one hundred action-packed stories, covering the range of American history, from the first visit of Leif the Lucky to the exploits of Sergeant York in World War I. In relating the long, thrilling story of the trials and triumphs of the pioneers and patriots, the author aims to gratify the love of children for the dramatic and picturesque, to satisfy them with stories that are true, and to make them familiar with the great characters in the history of their own country. Ages 8-12 |
SUPPORTING THE COLORS
 AMONG the heroes of the Revolution, none were more famous for their adventures than Marion's men. They lived in the
woods and swamps, sometimes a large body, and sometimes a small body but always ready to sally forth under
their leader, Francis Marion, to punish the enemy.
The best known of all these men was Sergeant William Jasper. He was very brave, and in no way did he seem to
fear for his life. At the battle of Fort Moultrie, Jasper was busily engaged. While the struggle was at its
height, with danger at its greatest, he saw the flag of the fort fall outside the works. It had been carried
away by a shot from the enemy.
Without a moment's hesitation, he leaped over the walls of the fort, jumped down into the ditch, and picked up
the flag where it lay on the ground. Coolly fastening it to a rod, which was used for wiping out the cannon,
he leaped back on to the wall of the fort, and stuck the rod in the sand of the breastworks.
Shot rained thick around him, and it seemed every moment as if he would be killed. But he finished his work,
left the flag waving defiance to
 the enemy, and quietly took his place in the ranks with his men.
General Moultrie was so struck with admiration by this deed that he unbuckled his own sword, and handed it to
Jasper, saying, "Take this, and wear it. You have committed a deed of great bravery, and I honor you for it."
When the soldiers were hiding in the woods of South Carolina, Jasper was often sent into the British lines to
find out what the enemy was doing. He was a good scout, and could so change his appearance that nobody
recognized him. His favorite amusement was to pretend to be a simple-minded countryman, who had something to
sell. In this guise he would find his way into the British camps. There he would abuse the Americans and
praise the British, but his keen eye meanwhile learned a great deal that would be of value to his Commander.
Upon one of these risky visits, Jasper and a friend, named Newton, saw a body of American prisoners brought
in. The wife of one of them had come along, carrying a little child. She was crying, and seemed in great
distress, for she knew her husband had once been a soldier on the British side, and had deserted to fight for
his own country. This meant quick trial and certain death for desertion.
 Jasper felt sorry for the couple, and resolved to rescue them, if he could. The prisoners started, under
escort, for Savannah, where they would stand trial. Jasper and Newton quietly left the British camp, and went
in an opposite direction, after pretending that "the scoundrels ought to be shot."
Soon, they turned, and made their way back toward Savannah. The two had no guns, nor weapons of any kind, but
they were determined to rescue the unfortunate prisoners, if they could.
Within two miles of Savannah, they stopped on the edge of a forest, near a spring; there they hid themselves,
awaiting the arrival of the prisoners and their guard. It was not long before the party, consisting of ten
British soldiers in charge of the prisoners, came into view.
The soldiers were tired. The spring looked cool and inviting, and the day was warm. Leaning their guns against
the trees, they took off their knapsacks, drank freely of the water, and lay down to rest. Two soldiers only
were left in charge of the guns and the prisoners. The latter sat on the ground, and Jasper could see the
woman near her husband, with the baby asleep in her lap.
"Now is the time," whispered Jasper to Newton. At the word, the brave men sprang from the
 thicket, seized the
guns from the trees, and shot down the two sentinels. The others cried out in dismay and sprang to their feet.
But it was too late, for they found their own guns leveled at them, by two very brave and determined Patriots.
"Surrender at once, or you are dead men," cried Jasper.
The British threw up their hands, and became the prisoners of those whom, a short while before, they had been
guarding. The party then turned about, on their way now to the American camp.
Not long after this, Jasper was among the troops that assaulted Savannah, trying to capture it from the
British. The column to which he belonged had pressed forward over ditches and parapets, and had planted the
flag of South Carolina on the works of the enemy.
A storm of shot and shell drove back the Carolinians, and cut down the staff that held the flag. Jasper saw
that the flag would fall into the hands of the British, and ran back to get it; in doing so he received a
He was borne from the field, and carried to his deathbed. He exclaimed, "I have at last got my furlough."
Pointing to his sword, he said to those around him, "That was presented to me for my services
 in defense of Fort Moultrie. Give it to my father, and tell him I have worn it with honor. If he should weep,
say to him that his son died in the hope of a better life."
A little later, they brought him the flag he had rescued. Looking at it, he smiled.
"Tell Mrs. Elliott," he said, "that I lost my life supporting the colors which she presented to our regiment."
As death drew near, the brave officer began faintly to recall many scenes of battle in which he had taken
part. He sent a farewell message to his Commander and his men, and to the prisoners he had rescued at the
spring. His last words, breathed to a friend nearby, were, "I am glad to have saved their lives, and I do not
mind losing mine; for I was supporting the colors."
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